Early this week, I was called to report for jury duty in Doylestown, Pennsylvania — a town I’d never visited, even though it’s only about 40 minutes from my home. Of course, most of my day was spent twiddling my thumbs within the gray confines of the jurors’ lounge at the courthouse, but a 1.5-hour lunch break gave me a much-needed chance to escape the building and explore.
The courthouse is in the heart of Doylestown’s downtown district, with its handsome historic buildings and flower-bedecked iron lampposts. An hour and a half wasn’t much time to grab lunch and wander around, but my brief stroll was long enough to pass several intriguing sights — a used bookstore, a local brewery — which I filed away in my head for a future visit.
I ate lunch outside on the patio of Cafe Alessio, an Italian restaurant on the corner of Court and Main Streets, then whiled away the rest of my break in the small park next to the courthouse. This green, quiet space is dedicated to “Bucks County Hometown Heroes” — local soldiers who’ve died overseas in the last decade. (Among the photos was a man from my own home town, who died in Iraq at age 25.)
I’d stuffed a few travel magazines into my bag that morning to help me kill time, but here in the park I found myself less interested in glossy photos of exotic places than in watching what was going on right in front of me: people streaming in and out of the courthouse, a postal worker emptying a blue mail receptacle, a man setting up a ladder to work on the facade of a 19th-century building.
As I sat there, soaking in my surroundings and wishing I had my camera, I was reminded that traveling isn’t just about going far away from home. On a deeper level, traveling is a way of observing the world, of seeing and appreciating with fresh eyes — even just a few miles from your own home town.
Which nearby places have you enjoyed lately?